In this post, I asked ya'lls opinion on starting a new feature here on the blog about the learning activities I do with Adoration. I got a lot of positive feedback, so I'll aim to make it a weekly feature and call it "Learning at Home." Before I get in to showing you our activities for the week, I'll give you an introduction into how we do it around here. You don't have to do it the exact way we do it. There is no "right" way. This is just what works for our family right now. Hopefully, this will be a place where you can get some ideas or be inspired. If having a lesson plan for the entire week seems overwhelming to you, just take baby steps! Try adding just one or two activities to your week that you wouldn't normally do.
Back in my preschool teaching days, I would have to plan lesson plans for the week and would have to make sure I incorporated activities for every subject area. I have a young toddler so I don't get that fancy. Plus, for us, that just wouldn't be realistic. So I've taken what I know and simplified it into a form that works for our family.
Usually during some downtime over the weekend I sit and plan out our learning for the week. First, I start with a theme. Now a theme isn't necessary, but I've found it helps give me focus for the week. Not all our planned activities go with the theme, but I would say about half of them do. A theme can be something your child is interested in, it can be a book, it can be nature. Get creative!
Here are the categories I use to split up our weekly learning.
So, for us, this week's theme is COLORS. Adoration is obsessed with one of her books about color's, so it seemed like a good choice. We usually hit up the library on Mondays so using the trusty computer card catalog, I look up books that go with the theme and we check them out! We read before every nap and bedtime, so this one is easy.
Have you ever noticed that your baby/toddler/preschool will be surrounded by dozen's of toys, will find a piece of paper on the floor and then proceed to play with it for the next 15 minutes? That's because they see those toys everyday but that piece of paper is different, it's NEW. So my first category is adding something new into their environment. First off, if you don't do this already, it's a good idea to rotate your toys. That way they aren't playing with the same toys every day.
I have a basket I designate for our "something new." Put unconventional materials in it for your child to play with. Use nature objects. Things from your kitchen. Anything that is safe for a child to play with. For example, one week I filled the basket with small cups, cotton balls, and q-tips. It was like Christmas. Adoration just LOVED those q-tips.
Here is the key, only bring the basket out during part of the day. I like to bring ours out when I'm trying to get ready in the morning. It keeps Adoration entertained while I'm trying to see to the all important task of applying concealer to my dark circles. After they play with it for awhile and move on to something else, put it away. You can bring it out later, but putting it away for part of the day keeps it fresh. Besides shopping around my own house and nature for our "something new" basket, I'll go through the $1 bins at Target. They have great stuff that is fun to add to these baskets. I never keep these items out and only use them for our special "something new" baskets. I have a storage bin just for the purpose of collecting these random items.
Young children learn about their environment primarily through their senses, so this is an important category. Sensory activities are anything that engage the senses. Touch and textures are a big part of this category. For example, playing with play-dough would be considered a "sensory activity." In a preschool or early childhood facility they have something called "sensory tables" that they fill with different things, like water, sand,rice, beans, feathers, whatever, that children can play with( supervised.) Now a sensory table can be kinda of expensive, so we just use a big plastic container. You could also use a large baking pan, a bucket, etc. Anything that you can fill up. Something kinda shallow usually works best. Actually, I think a kiddie pool would work best because you could just put your whole kid in there with the sensory material and it would help contain the mess. note to self: get kiddie pool.
These are specific activities you do WITH your child, to help them learn about and engage their world. Adoration loves these activities and loves that I do them with her. They are usually pretty simple but help children get introduced to some important concepts!
Art is also a sensory activity, but differs in that you are actually creating something. It's my personal favorite. You want your art activities to be self-led. Doing some kind of craft where you end up doing all the work to make it look a certain way negates the purpose. You provide your child with the materials, and under supervision, let them go to to town. This is "coloring outside of the lines," kind of art and that's the kind that will engage your lil' one's growing brain.
Okay, so those are the main categories we use for our weekly learning! I plan 2-3 activites per category. We don't always get to them all, but for now, that amount is easily incorporated into our week. This week I will post specific things we did for our week learning about Colors (and that post will have pictures so it will be a lot more exciting). That will give you some idea on the kinds of things you can do that fit into these categories.
For each activity I will try to provide you with this info:
how it is helping your child learn
how to adjust for different ages, or suggest similar alternate activities for other ages.
I'll also try to provide you with online resources that will help you create your own activities as well! I'm excited!